The Sisters of the Monastery of Bethlehem invite you to take a silent retreat into the “desert."
Going on a spiritual retreat is a wonderful way to jump start one’s prayer life and begin to listen once again to the voice of God. More than simply going on a vacation, taking time away from one’s busy life to go on a retreat allows one to put aside the cares and concerns of the world, to dedicate time for reflection and prayer.
The Sisters of the Monastery of Bethlehem in Livingston Manor, New York, invite all who would like to take that time to reflect on the deeper meaning of their existence to join them for a silent retreat at their monastery set amidst the great beauty of the Catskill Mountains.
Why go on a silent retreat
Some religious retreats offer lectures and discussion groups, and provide opportunities for retreatants to learn about their faith and connect and form friendships. A silent retreat, however, is considered by many to be the best way to experience that closer connection with God that sometimes seems impossible in our noisy world.
Private retreats at the Monastery of Bethlehem
Located at an old summer camp, the Monastery of Bethlehem is home to religious sisters from the Order of the Monastic Sisters of Bethlehem of the Assumption of the Virgin and of Saint Bruno, which was founded in 1950 in Rome.
The Sisters of the Monastery of Bethlehem in Livingston Manor, New York, welcome retreatants who would like to live as they do, in silence and in Adoration. Visitors are welcome to stay in individual hermitages at the monastery, nestled in the Catskill Mountains. There they can pray in solitude in the hermitage oratories, and spend their days reading, resting, and enjoying the magnificent natural beauty around them.
Welcoming travelers “into the desert”
Since the monastery’s founding in 1987, the sisters have welcomed retreatants who wish to take part in their lives of prayer and contemplation of the mystery of the Assumption of the Virgin Mother into Heaven. One of the sisters explained to us that while their order is a contemplative one, they reach out to others to offer a hospitality of “silent love and prayer.”
“Priests, deacons, religious and lay people are offered hospitality in an area close to the monastery where they can themselves experiment this life of silence and solitude through a retreat, and be filled with God’s goodness,” she said.
“Like Abraham who welcomed the three travelers in the desert and prepared a meal for them, we too welcome those who come our way into the desert to seek God, and we offer them accommodation and meals, so they can spend their time fully with God and for God,” she added.
A retreatant’s daily schedule
Upon arrival at the monastery, a retreatant is invited to take part in the liturgical life of the Sisters. Retreatants may join the celebration of offices and Masses in the monastery’s Main Chapel: The schedule of the liturgy celebrated in common includes Matins (6:45 a.m.), Mass (7:40 a.m.), and Vespers in the evening (5:45 p.m.). Retreatants can also receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Retreatants may spend time in Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, either at the monastery’s Main Chapel or in solitude, in an oratory of Adoration.
They can also follow the stations of the Way of the Cross, meet with a religious sister, read and pray in the hermitage, or simply sit on the porch and enjoy the great natural beauty of the monastery’s grounds. For exercise, visitors are welcome to take walks in designated areas and hiking trails and explore the area’s forests, rollings hills and lakes.
Arrangements can also be made for those who are interested in helping out with the many daily tasks the upkeep of the monastery requires, such as weeding, gardening and painting.
Accommodations at the monastery
Eight individual hermitages are available for retreatants. Each has a portico, bed, kitchen, bathroom, refectory and an upstairs oratory for prayer and meditation.
Families and small groups are also welcome to stay in the monastery’s guest house, where they can live and pray in silence, as the religious sisters do.
Two meals are provided to retreatants to be taken in solitude. Food for breakfast is provided, and can be prepared by the retreatants.
Note: The monastery is open during the pandemic. Special cleaning procedures and social distancing protocols will be in place to assure the safety of the retreatants and religious sisters.
To make arrangements to go on a retreat at the monastery visit the monastery’s website. Learn more about the Sisters of the Monastery of Bethlehem here. And to purchase the sisters’ hand-painted chinaware, pottery, rosaries and incense, visit their online store here.